Goodbye fast switching & cell-mode MPLS

After leaving us in the dark for almost a year, Cisco finally released new functionality in IOS release 12.4(20)T. Support for a number of hardware platforms has been removed (dynamips fans are left with the 7200’s, everything else is gone). They also removed two switching features: fast switching and label-controlled ATM (cell-mode MPLS-over-ATM) together with Label Switch Controller (LSC).

I have no problem living without LC-ATM or LSC; this technology was primarily a retrofit for the old boxes by the time MPLS really took off with MPLS VPN. Fast switching is a different beast. Whenever you’d encounter bugs in more creative designs involving NAT, IPSec and GRE on low-end routers, you could turn off CEF (assuming you did not run NBAR) and things would (sometimes) miraculously start to work. Without fast switching, turning off CEF would bring you straight into process switching, resulting in an order-of-magnitude (or more) performance loss. On the other hand, it's obvious it makes no sense to maintain an obsolete switching method … and more bugs will probably get reported and fixed now that the easy escape route is gone.

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